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Balloon threat

The balloon rosary is prepared for release outside of a local church on October 13.

By Simone Delochan,

There is a fairly recent trend now as part of some outdoor church events, to make rosaries out of helium-filled balloons and then release it. Indeed, balloons are synonymous with any celebration, and admittedly there is a quiet sense of joy that is experienced in releasing and seeing balloons catch a breeze and gently float away.

But we have reached a point where environmental concern must trump fleeting feelings, as we are experiencing now very real effects from the decades of environmental abuse.

Balloons are not a small matter. Seventy per cent of released balloons end up in the seas to be consumed by turtles, whales, fish, sea lions, and egrets. Examples of each of these have been found with ingested deflated balloons, and in some cases, with the balloons blocking the digestive tract causing the animal to slowly starve to death. Turtles in particular are susceptible.

The string and ribbon usually tied at the ends of balloons are traps for animals as they can become entangled. The ribbon or string wraps around wings, flippers, fins causing amputation, infections and death.

Biodegradable balloons can last up to a year before they degrade, more than enough time to cause severe injury/death.  And if the term ‘biodegradable’ still brings an illusory comfort to actions, think about the string with which the ends are tied.

We are a creative people. Let us come up with alternatives that give back to this sacred space which is our home. Change your mind when you reach for that balloon.

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